Joyce MacDonald

As President and CEO of Greater Public, Joyce is responsible for developing a vision, strategic framework, and plans to maximize public media’s finances for long-term success. Joyce comes to Greater Public from the CPB, where she served as Vice President, Journalism and Senior Advisor Content Operations. In that role she worked across radio, digital, and television to plan, initiate, and administer grant initiatives to support local, regional, and national public media journalism. In consultation with stakeholders across the system, she developed a strategic framework for designing and funding journalism collaboration and innovation, and was directly responsible for $16 million in grants in 2016. Joyce previously served as a key advisor to and ambassador for NPR’s President/CEO as Chief of Staff, led the national sponsorship organization National Public Media as Interim President and CEO, and spent six years as Vice President of Member Partnership at NPR. Prior to joining NPR in 1999, Joyce was Vice President for Affiliate Marketing with Sony Corporation’s SW Networks, joining Sony after serving as a Regional Director of Affiliate Marketing with ABC Radio Networks. She launched her radio career as an account executive with WFNX Radio, Boston and earned her Master of Science degree in broadcast administration from Boston University’s College of Communication.

Recent Posts

How the Pandemic Prepared Public Media to Build an Audience-Centered Culture

leadership, Audience Engagement, COVID-19

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Over the past year, I’ve watched public media organizations meet the challenges of the pandemic by creating ways to serve audiences that would have been previously unimaginable. 

From COVID help desks to the most creative examples of virtual — and newly accessible — live events, the pandemic challenged many of our organizations to set aside some of the well-worn ways we do things in order to ask a single essential question: 

“What does our community need from us right now, and how can we best provide it for them?” 

The process of asking and answering that question is how we develop an audience. Continually repeating this process while embodying and rewarding the skills required to meet audience needs is how we build an audience-centered culture.

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A Time for Change

Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, General Management, diversity & inclusion

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The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and too many other Black Americans, along with the anguish being felt in cities nationwide, have pulled back the curtain for many on injustice and the need for systemic change. And we are part of the need for change. Our industry grapples with the same issues of implicit bias and whiteness that exist nationwide.

Change is tumultuous. But the beauty of change is that it brings opportunity.

Public media has everything it takes to learn, grow, and serve all the people of this nation just as our mission has called us to do from the beginning. We have always lifted each other up in service of our mission, and our capacity to come together remains undiminished. In fact, the way forward for our entire industry exists within the wisdom and practices of individual stations and teams. We have the advantage of being able to learn from one another.

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Building New Revenue Starts With Gratitude

Major Giving, COVID-19

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Your resources - including time - are being simultaneously crunched and stretched. Corporate sponsorship is likely underperforming, membership may be holding steady but the long term is uncertain, your licensee may be reducing support, but your community’s need for your service has never been greater. 

If our industry has ever needed a path to “new” revenue, it needs it now. 

I would maintain that there is substantial revenue hiding in plain sight at most local public media organizations.

Where is it hiding? On your donor list.

Whether you have 5,000 donors or 50,000, whether you’re in a major market or in a smaller community, there are individuals that are currently supporting you with a relatively modest annual gift that have the capacity to give more – in some cases much more.

I have seen analyses of donor lists from dozens of public media organizations prepared by colleagues at Veritus Group, our partners in the Transformational Major Giving Pilot Program and Public Media Major Gift Academy. Every single one of those analyses shows the potential for dramatic growth based on Veritus’s experience with organizations large and small, across nonprofit sectors.

Every single one.

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What’s Past Is Prologue: What We Can (and Can’t) Learn From the Last Recession

Membership, Corporate Support, budgeting, Major Giving, General Management, COVID-19

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We are all looking at our budgets. How will 2020 end? And what assumptions should we make for revenue in 2021? To borrow a quote from screenwriter Willian Goldman, “Nobody knows anything.”

We are far from the end of the story about how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect our lives, our communities, our economy, or our public media organizations. As we all prepare our worst-case, bad-case, and less-bad-case scenarios, I can’t help but look back at how public media weathered the Great Recession of 2008.

I have no doubt that all of you have done due diligence on how your individual organizations performed from 2008-2010+ for clues on how to imagine things unfolding. For a system-wide perspective, Greater Public analyzed relevant station data from our Benchmarks reports from the recession years, and we’ve gathered insights from several other data-minded colleagues at national organizations.

Public Radio Individual Giving Tells an Optimistic Story

Based on data from a consistent group of 47 public radio stations that participated in Benchmarks from 2008-2011:

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Why Public Media Is Worthy of the Biggest Asks in America

Major Giving, General Management

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Public media has one of the most lofty and optimistic origin stories of the American 20th century. The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 proclaimed that all Americans have a right to non-commercial, educational programming on their TVs and radios. For democracy to flourish, the public must be informed and enlightened; the task of fortifying the minds and hearts of citizens must not fall to private interests alone. 

Not unlike like the public education system, public broadcasting is available to all. Our services have also thrived thanks to ongoing support from millions of Americans. We understand that financial support from individuals is proof of our importance to our communities, but access to public media is not limited by membership. Our mission to serve the common good has remained universal in its scope.

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The Great Major Giving Pivot

Major Giving, General Management, leadership, philanthropy

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Whenever I talk to leaders in other nonprofit industries about fundraising for public media, they tell me how lucky we are. They understand that our supporters - the people who love and give to public media - are truly the stuff of envy. Our fans proclaim their adoration on tote bags, in dating apps, in conversations with friends and family, and by becoming members. More than half of public media donors are sustaining members; they give year after year. This percentage is head-and-shoulders above the share of sustainers that can be claimed by other nonprofits. Not surprisingly, overall retention among public media donors is also significantly higher than the national index.

Public media has nearly perfected the model of raising money from a large swath of people who love what we do. Our central strategy has historically relied on the fact that our supporters engage with us everyday, all day long on our airwaves. When we want them to give, we don’t have to go far to get their attention. We simply go on-air and ask. These donor interactions are straightforward and transactional. And they deliver.

Like I said, the stuff of envy! Of course, our greatest strengths can conceal our greatest weaknesses, or, as I see them, our greatest opportunities.

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A Pathological Optimist’s Vision for a Powerful, Collaborative Public Media of the Future

Membership, Social/Mobile, Corporate Support, Major Giving, General Management, philanthropy

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It’s been an exciting eight weeks since I stepped into my role as Greater Public CEO, in particular because we’re in a moment in history when what we do is more important to the public than ever before.

While public media is growing and expanding reach and impact based on audience trust and support, it’s also clear that, as individual organizations, most of us don’t have enough of a margin to invest in ourselves.

We must:

  • Double down on local content creation.
  • Buy or build the digital infrastructure we need to position ourselves for the future.
  • Invest in reaching new audiences.
  • Figure out how to fully monetize non-broadcast engagement.

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